Oak Canyon concerns voiced

May 16, 2003 12:00 am

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

As mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act, the Calaveras County Planning Commission held a public hearing yesterday to hear the public's concerns about a proposed, large-scale housing project in Copperopolis.

The environmental impact report for Oak Canyon Ranch was released last month. The project has plans for 2,275 houses, two golf courses and a resort area with hotels, time shares, shops, restaurants and a day spa.

The law requires that a public hearing about a project's EIR be held during the public comment period — that's what happened at yesterday's Planning Commission meeting.

All comments were recorded and will be addressed in the project's final EIR, which could be approved later this summer, project developers have said.

"It's pretty much what we expected," co-developer Maury Froman said yesterday. "We're going to take what was said and go look at it."

About 15 people gathered at the Calaveras County Government Center in San Andreas for yesterday's hearing. About half of them talked about the proposed project.

Some people questioned the thoroughness of the EIR.

John Buckley of the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center said, among other things, that the EIR fails to assess the project's effect on area pond turtles. He also said the EIR underestimates the effect of losing 3 square miles of blue oak woodland, and the impact traffic will have on the intersection of Highway 108 and O'Byrnes Ferry Road.

Buckley said project developers should be made to "pay to mitigate for the incredible range of traffic, water and wildlife impacts that will occur."

Also in the audience was Copperopolis resident Dave Lander, who said widening Copper Cove Drive, as suggested in the EIR, could require houses to be torn down.

"The problem isn't what the EIR is showing us, it's what it's not showing us," Lander said.

Lander also said the EIR posted on the county's Web site is incomplete. Planning Director Kim Hansen said some of the graphics and charts couldn't be put online.